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Misuse of state gifted land, funds

Art & Craft Village management continues to flout rules, court orders

ISLAMABAD: The management of Arts and Craft Village (ACV) has been continuously violating the rules and regulations regarding use of funds, appointments and elections and also defying court orders.

The ACV has been constructed on 21 acres of CDA land without proper approval and its property and the ACV project funds worth of Rs 20.333 billion were misused.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has been also continuing to ignore the violation of rules and regulations by Indus Heritage Trust (IHT) running the ACV project, it is learnt.

Daily Times in its reports pointed out that CDA former chairman Kamran Lashari bent the rules while the incumbent chairman made ensured that the rules are thrown to the bin to let a group of influential personalities of the capital run their money minting projects on state gifted land of 21 acres in the lap of scenic Shakarparian hills without any legal approval.

During Lashari’s tenure, the ACV idea was conceived and advertised in the newspapers on August 4, 2004 to seek partnership with a reputed and experienced NGO to establish a unique ACV for the promotion of Pakistani culture and civilization. Indus Heritage Trust (IHT) came into being 11 days after the publication of the advertisement, courtesy Anis Jilani and eventually Lashari gifted this unique project to IHT ignoring all requirements of pre-qualification due to the influence of some people including Hina Rabbani Khar, Sharjeel Shah and Ghulam Ahmad Bilour. IHT is being run by Samina Khan (Sungi project and widow of Omer Asghar Khan), Siddiqa Malik, Bushra Rafi, Zarene Malik, Moyna Aikens (British national of Indian origin and being investigated by secret agencies) and Anees Jillani (Advocate).

A former member of ACV board directors on condition of anonymity told this scribe that on a Women Day’s function IHT raised over Rs 30 million but not a single penny from this money was deposited in the joint account of IHT and CDA, supposed to be up and running as per the initial agreement between the two. Another former director of the project also revealed that IHT had generated over Rs 60 million from another fund-raiser organized at the venue and after that came into being a surrogate NGO called Saba by one of the masterminds of IHT, hailing from Sungi. Again there is no mention to this in the joint account.

According to the sources, now these influential women are constantly in touch with World Bank to get financial assistance for the projects. As it is a clear policy of WB that it doesn’t release any funds to non-governmental entities, IHT management has been trying to use CDA. In the end these funds will go in the pockets of these personalities and in case of any embezzlement CDA will be held responsible for that, but CDA officers no objection to it create doubts about their intentions.

Sources further said IHT failed to fulfill legal and regulatory compliances since its formulation. The IHT members joined and left without following the legal requirements. Even timely elections were not held for appointment of board members who continued to work even after completion of their tenure. No quarterly return and annual return have been filed. The Trust meetings were held at different places, minutes were prepared but those minutes were not properly signed and formal resolutions were not passed based on these minutes. The Trust deed does not specify the minimum and maximum number of members, provisions regarding accounts and audit were also not covered by the trust deed which should be specified according to Trust Act 1982. Trust did not establish its own office. A CDA officer said ACV failed to comply with legal and regulatory compliances. Quarterly statements of withholding tax deduction and annual statements, which were required to be filled with income tax authorities, were not filed. TOR of Managing Committee was not defined. Financial statements of IHT and ACV were not prepared and no proper financial system was in place. Financial Transaction of ACV were not recorded on double entry system. There are also problems of accounting for withholding tax.

A former board member said there were disputes between CDA and IHT on different issues but CDA management is helpless in front of the IHT. He said CDA raised an issue regarding project’s acceptance all over the country through letter No CDA/CE-1(07/2009/411 but IHT did not bother to consider it. Another officer requesting not to be named said Sessions Court has already issued a stay regarding that project but still IHT has been conducting meetings. A meeting was conducted on April 23, 2011 and another on June 14. CDA Chairman, CDA Member Finance, Siddiqa Malik, Anees Jillani, Shahid Ahmed Khan and Samina Khan attended the meeting, which was a clear violation of court stay.

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